Need to screen patients at inpatient psychiatric facility for symptoms of PTSD


A person experiencing a distressing event has the chance of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). About 7-8 percent of the American population will be afflicted with PTSD at some point in their lives, as per the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), women are in a greater likelihood of suffering from this disorder than men.

Studying prevalence of PTSD among mentally ill patients in inpatient facility

Previous studies had pointed at increased prevalence of trauma as a co-occurring disorder with mental illness. Considering the lack of research available on the occurrence of PTSD in inpatient psychiatric setting, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center, McGovern Medical School in Houston, examined all mentally ill patients being treated at an inpatient psychiatric unit for six months to understand the prevalence of PTSD in such a setting.

For the study, presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in Atlanta, Georgia in May 2016, the scientists evaluated 115 patients suffering from bipolar, depressive or psychotic disorder. Details of patients diagnosed with mood/psychotic disorder or adjustment disorder as a result of substance abuse were not taken into account. The respondents were asked to provide details in accordance with the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). The PCL-5 is a scale to measure the symptoms of PTSD as referred to in the DSM-5. The symptoms in the patients were described as “not at all,” “a little bit,” “moderately,” “quite a bit,” or “extreme.”

Need to screen mental patients for possible manifestation of PTSD

The scientists conducted provisional diagnosis of PTSD in 48 patients based on the cut-off scores they obtained (greater than 33) out of 80 on the PCL-5. No biasness, based on gender, race or primary diagnosis was allowed between groups of respondents observed during the study.

The scientists found that patients afflicted with PTSD were older in age than those not suffering from the disorder. The results also indicated higher prevalence of PTSD in psychiatric inpatient setting than the national average. As not much study had been carried out regarding the prevalence of PTSD among patients being administered treatment in the psychiatric inpatient setting, most patients remained either not recognized or were left untreated during the whole span of therapeutic intervention. The observations necessitate medical practitioners to screen such patients for possible symptoms of PTSD to allow timely treatment.

Road to recovery

Previous researches had pointed at the universality of co-occurring PTSD and psychiatric illnesses and had linked their occurrence to heightened probabilities of suicidal ideation and disorders related to substance abuse.

The signs of PTSD can begin to show within three months of the traumatic incident leading to the disorder, or at times, the disease can manifest itself at a much later stage. While exposure to cognitive therapy or prolonged therapy can provide effective treatment if started early, the symptoms of the disorder usually disappear within the first six months of the treatment, though in many cases, the disorder is prolonged and untreatable. The country has been relentless in its efforts in educating war veterans and their families about the disorder and ways to tackle it.

If you or your loved one has been suffering from PTSD or any other mental illness, you may get in touch with the experts from the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline for more information about various mental illness treatment centers available. You may chat online or call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 for further expert advice on mental health treatment facilities available in your vicinity.

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